A therapist may have one view, your family may have another view but I am going to give you the opinion of an experienced divorce lawyer as to how to handle the “divorce conversation.” I can tell you from the start, you should not whisper it and the reaction will not be that great as it appears in the above unless your spouse hates you and you will have to write really big checks and alimony to get rid of him or her.
First, let’s start with where. If you have children, the children should not be home when you plan to have the conversation. If you live apart then it is a different situation. If you have been apart for a while you can handle it much differently and maybe even over the phone but if its recent or you still reside together but have kids, make sure the kids are not in the house. If that is tough, then go somewhere that is somewhat private without interruption. If you have any fear of the reaction, it should be in a public place where you feel safe or have someone near by that can help you if your spouse gets very angry/aggressive.
While you may not think so, you may be upset,you may be mad, right now you have to focus on your goal. To either fix the marriage if that is possible or to move on and obtain a divorce. If you have chosen that there is no hope and are going for a divorce, you need to be blunt with your spouse but also try to be nice. Try to be nice and not point fingers. It is not time for blame at this point, it is about trying to work out a plan as to how to go forward with a divorce and whatever your short term plan may be. If you want your spouse to leave within a certain amount of time (which they do not have to accept) or that you are leaving with the children or not, or that one of us should leave within a certain amount of time and then we can start dividing assets, etc and/or have our lawyers discuss that best way to do this. DO be careful when you start mentioning lawyers at first because many people have the misunderstanding that every lawyer is seeking to make matters worse or to simply attack the other person, it does not have to be that way. The tone you want your lawyer to use is the tone your lawyer should use.
Having notes, a list may be helpful when having the conversation such as:
- Where you intend to live
- Parenting Time
- Assets Acquired
- Time Frame
- Telling the Family
- Telling the Children
Obviously the list is not in any particular order as I would think telling the children is the hardest but sometimes the kids just know, sometimes the kids are older but either way, if you are unhappy, that unhappiness and/or anger is felt by the children so even though it can be very hard, you need to do what you have to do for your own emotional well-being. While this article is very short, I just wanted to share some ways on how to have this conversation as it is not like your regular college breakup.
Furthermore, the conversation will not cover all issues as a divorce attorney can explain certain things you should add to any agreement or the laws that pertain to your particular situation. This includes how to divide retirement assets, how to handle parenting time in writing, travel outside the United States, moving out of New Jersey with your children, financial calculations whether it is alimony or child support, how to resolve issues that arise after the divorce, choice of religion, passport control, how to pay/receive support, college contributions, emancipation events, name changes (maiden name), sole custody/joint custody, shared custody/shared parenting time, relocation, tax ramifications, premarital assets, pensions, post divorce modifications, mediation, arbitration, grandparental rights and so on. You need to know what you are signing up for and/or giving up before it is too late. We can help, we are experienced divorce lawyers in New Jersey with the skill to advise you accordingly.
I hope it helped and appreciate feedback and if you need me, contact my office in our Jersey City office on 201-706-7910.